KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian authorities on Tuesday launched an investigation into a TV documentary by Qatari state-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera on the alleged mass arrests of migrant workers in Malaysia during coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdowns.
Officials said the film report, titled “Locked up in Malaysia’s Lockdown” and produced by Al Jazeera’s 101 East news program, had been an attempt to sully Malaysia’s international image.
The documentary highlighted the plight of thousands of undocumented migrants reportedly arrested during raids carried out in COVID-19 lockdown hotspots.
In a statement, Federal Criminal Investigations Department director, commissioner Huzir Mohamed, said: “The baseless and one-sided news report had subsequently caused uncertainty and anxiety among the majority of the population, as if portraying the government’s unyielding approach toward the broadcasting of inaccurate news on the government’s success in containing the outbreak.
“No one will be spared from the long arm of the law if they are found to have tarnished the country’s image.”
Mohamed added that police had so far received at least five police reports regarding the case and identified several individuals involved in assisting with the reporting.
“The police also call for the Al Jazeera journalist and others involved in the documentary production to come forward as soon as possible,” the commissioner said, adding that the channel would be investigated for alleged sedition.
The Malaysian Immigration Department also circulated a notice on Tuesday, saying it was looking for a 25-year-old Bangladeshi national who was one of the people quoted by Al Jazeera in the documentary.
Al Jazeera has so far not commented on the investigation.